Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Keynote Address: Public Symposium
“Wisdom of the World and Wisdom of Chubu
Sustainable and Resilient Regional Development
United Nations Centre for Regional Development”

Mr. Masaaki Kobayashi, Vice-Minister, Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan,
Mr. Tatsushi Nishioka, Director, Global Issues Cooperation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan,
Mr. Hideaki Ohmura, Governor of Aichi Prefecture,
Mr. Takashi Kawamura, Mayor of Nagoya City,

[Japanese words]

Nagoya no minasama, Kon-nichi-wa.  [Hello, the people of Nagoya.]

Kokuren no Lenny Montiel desu.  [I am Lenny Montiel from the UN.]

[End of Japanese words]

It is my pleasure to be with you here today on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), a very important institution of our Department, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Forty-five years ago, the Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution, calling for Member States to offer facilities for the research and training programme in the field of regional development.  The Government of Japan, together with Aichi Prefecture and Nagoya City responded to this call by offering to host UNCRD.  We are very grateful for the generous support received over the years from the Government of Japan as well as the local hosts, Aichi Prefecture and Nagoya City.

This resolution recognizes that a “regional development approach is used to achieve a more effective integration of social, economic and spatial aspects of development and also to spread more evenly the economic and social benefits of development efforts.”  It also notes that “regional development is a potential instrument for integration and promotion of social and economic development efforts within a country in order, particularly, to, among others, include more effectively environmental considerations in development plans”.  At the same time, we are now facing a number of new and emerging issues such as climate change, increasing frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, toxic chemicals and wastes, micro-plastics in marine environment, social conflicts and global economic recession, just to mention a few, that have added new dimensions to the challenges in achieving sustainable regional development.  

Despite the many new challenges, it is quite remarkable that in our current efforts in promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities, the resolution still sheds light and a regional development approach continues to be a very useful instrument.

Today, I would like to talk about implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, the UN Member States reached a historic agreement on an agenda for the world’s sustainable development over the next 15 years.  This agenda was adopted by world leaders in September 2015. The transformative “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

The Agenda consists of 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets. The SDGs and targets aim to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs, but are also more ambitious. They address core human development themes such as poverty, hunger and education, health and water and sanitation.

The 2030 Agenda aims high.  It puts people at the centre of development.  It has poverty eradication as its overarching objective.  It aims to foster human well-being, prosperity, peace and justice on a healthy planet.  It pursues respect for the human rights of all people and gender equality. It pledges to leave no one behind.

For the first time, a development agenda in the UN is a sustainable development agenda, incorporating the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development in a holistic manner. The new agenda addresses hunger and nutrition and healthy lives for all, and looks to achieve gender equality and universal access to quality education. It aims to ensure access to clean water and sanitation and modern and sustainable energy.

It also includes economic issues that have a critical impact on people and planet such as growth, employment, industrialisation, infrastructure and urbanization. And it links social and economic dimensions to goals on climate change, oceans, and terrestrial ecosystems. These goals are accompanied by a dedicated goal on sustainable consumption and production, which attests to the really transformative nature of the SDGs and a goal on sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11).

Turning the ambitious 2030 Agenda to reality is now our main task. The principles of inclusiveness, integration and breaking silos must guide implementation.

And this is an Agenda for all, meaning developed countries are also required to implement.

= = = = = = =

[Presentation of the PowerPoint Slides]

[Slide 1]

Here I would like to present a few slides on SDGs on where we are currently.  As a monitoring tool, we publish the SDG Report and the first issue was published in July this year.  We have put together the goals into five main categories:  People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.

[Slide 2]

Goals concerning “People” are: 1 on poverty; 2 on hunger; 3 on good health and well-being; 4 on quality education; and 5 on gender equality. 

The latest data shows that about one in eight people still live in extreme poverty and nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger. The under-5 mortality rate has been reduced by more than  half in the last quarter century.  But 59 million children of school age are out of school and women only represent 23 per cent  in parliament. 

[Slide 3]

Under Planet, we put together goals: 6 on clean water and sanitation; 12 on responsible consumption and production; 13 on climate action; 14 on life below water; and 15 on life on land.  Here I think you find goals that are closely related to your daily life. 

We note that over 600 million people still use unimproved water and 2.4 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation.  Here, I would like to note that big difference in Material Footprint, a measure of raw materials used for final consumption of goods, between developing countries and developed countries.  We have commitments made in Paris last year on climate change.  Something of great concern to the people of Japan may be that the proportion of fish stock in biologically sustainable levels has been greatly declining.  Furthermore, over 23,000 species face distinction globally.

[Slide 4]

This group of goals is also a great concern to all of us: 7 on affordable and clean energy; 8 on decent work and economic growth; 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10 on reducing inequality; and 11 on sustainable cities and communities, the focus of this Symposium.

The slides highlight features of the world situation and indicate more of status of the developing countries, for example, 1.1 billion people are living without electricity.  But I think you can easily imagine that in your communities, you would be more concerned about the proportion of renewable energy, developing sustainable and resilient infrastructure and makingyour cities sustainable and resilient.

[Slide 5]

One of the major features of the SDGs is that the set includes a goal on Peace, Goal 16.

The slide is showing  child trafficking, but the goal includes a target on reducing all forms of violence and related death as well as reducing corruption, illicit financial and arms flows – issues that may be addressed in developed countries as well.

Finally, Goal 17 is on Partnership. 

The slide is showing the increase in ODA from 2014 to 2015, which is a welcome trend, but perhaps, you may think more of partnership among many stakeholders, including different levels of governments, civil society organizations, private companies, philanthropy organizations and so on, in order to facilitate the implementation.

I hope these slides helped to explain some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that we are now tasked to achieve.  [end of slides]

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Implementation will be state-led. Aligning policies and resources in line with the SDGs, and tapping into synergies to help fast-track implementation are essential.

The Agenda is a triumph of multilateralism and can only be achieved through political will, cooperation, coordination, and partnerships with participation of all the stakeholders.

We must work in a renewed global partnership for sustainable development and define new pathways for engaging civil societies and developing innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships models. A major effort is required to communicate the Agenda and inspire all actors to join in implementing it. 

Obstacles in coordination, resource mobilisation, means of implementation, and capacity building can stall implementation.

Although the implementation is state-led, the build up from cities and regions is essential.

The 2030 Agenda cannot be implemented in isolation from sustainable cities and regions.  Each and every Sustainable Development Goal is applicable to the urban context.  Cities are hubs for transport systems, industrialization, modern energy systems along with social, human and economic development.

Therefore, I would like to recommend to the Government of Japan, Aichi Prefecture, and Nagoya City which has hosted UNCRD for last 45 years to continue to provide their support to UNCRD so that it could better serve the needs of the least developed and developing countries across the world in implementing this ambitious Agenda. I also welcome that people of the Chubu region  join UNCRD hand-in-hand acting as true ambassadors of “regional development” that is deeply rooted in your prosperity and development.   

As this region presented a very good example of regional development 45 years ago, I would like to invite you to come up with exemplary sustainable regional development plan, as called for by SDG 11, which reflects a powerful set of targets to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”  And the Target 11.a  calls to “Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning”.

UNDESA is hoping that UNCRD will continue its important work of regional development, which is very pertinent in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  And for that, we expect that the region of Chubu will offer a good example of sustainable regional development planning as it has demonstrated for forty-five years with its regional development planning. 

Regular review and reporting at all levels can help identify gaps and opportunities, and propel progress. At the global level, the high-level political forum (HLPF) will be the apex of follow up and review.

Other sustainable development issues that are addressed by UNCRD  include:

  • promotion of environmentally sustainable transport (EST) funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan;
  • promotion of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and resource efficiency funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan;
  • sustainable waste management at municipal level through the International Partnership for Expanding Waste Management Service of Local Authorities (IPLA) – a SGD partnership;
  • disaster risk reduction;

All of these  efforts of UNCRD constitute important elements of SDG 11, SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, and SDG 17 on strengthening and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development;

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Ministry of the Environment of Japan for providing generous funding support in establishing the two important regional forums on EST and 3R. 

I was informed that Nagoya City and Aichi Prefecture offer many good examples in these important  areas.   

I encourage Nagoya City and Aichi Prefecture to work on an innovative approach to sustainable regional development planning that could be presented at the next HLPF.

Thank you very much.

[Japanese words]

Arigatou gozaï mashita.  [Thank you so much.]

Mata oaï shimashou.    [See you again.]


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